Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lose a gig, get a gig

No, not me. I will be underemployed forever. 

I'm talking about former Sharks' center Mark Smith and his band the Vinyl Trees.
With the Sharks out of the playoffs, adios to Smitty's job as a Comcast in-studio talking head. Back to another paying job ... 
The Vinyl Trees have a bunch of dates at the BLVD Tavern in Los Gatos, the first on May 29 at 9 p.m. They'll also be doing a gig with the Tragically Hip (those Canadians gotta stick together, right?) on June 14 at the Fillmore in SF. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Post-Mortem (again)

There is no joy in SJ today. The Anaheim Ducks did what they had to do last night and they did it well, with no help from the referees. (In my opinion anyway … it was an evenly poorly-called game for both sides, with both refs putting their whistles away for certain events, and becoming ice Nazis for others.)

Last night I cruised through the Sharks’ official message board. I used to post there but not anymore—any dissenting opinions aren’t allowed. The fur was flying, and the blame was everywhere!

I have been a firm believer that there is, and has been, a chemistry problem in that dressing room, and even after wholesale personnel changes, when the going gets tough, the Sharks get going—in the other direction. Teemu Selanne remarked that perhaps the Sharks weren’t mentally tough enough because as a team they had not faced any real adversity all year. His observation and explanation is as good as any.

I enjoy watching the clips of Jamie Baker’s and Ray Whitney’s playoff goals back in the franchises' infancy. Back then the Sharks had no star power whatsoever, but they were fun to watch. Even if they were going to get their asses handed to them on a platter, there was always a guy or two on the ice fighting for every inch of ice. No one ever accused Dody Wood or Andrei Nazarov of being stars, but what heart Dody Wood had!

One of the loudest games I’d ever been to was a regular-season game against Buffalo, and the Sharks were getting murdered out there. All of a sudden something just clicked, and you could see and feel the SJ players just suck up and take charge. They were unstoppable, and went on to win that game. Incredible. The same happened at a game against Boston.

I remember exactly where I was when Whitney scored his goal against Calgary. I was at Sears Point preparing to do four days of volunteer medical work for the NASCAR race. We were watching on a small 14 or so inch television, using the rabbit ears antenna, so the picture was snowy. The game was on local channel 36. I had a headache from watching the snowy screen but it was oh-so-worth-it!!!

My daughter and I were in attendance for Andrei Zyuzin’s OT goal against Dallas 10 years ago (wow, time flies!). We were there when Owen Nolan shot the puck at St. Louis’s net as the period ended—and the puck went in. We have been to so many games—playoff and regular season—where you could just see the passion and heart no matter what was happening on the ice. Not meaning to sound cliche, but it was electric.

I’ve not had those feelings about this team for some time. I don’t think it’s a matter of the coach setting the tone, the desire to win. No one in their right mind can accuse Darryl Sutter of being without passion. He was tough on his players but to a man knew which buttons to push to get the best out of them. Until he took his case to the media, Ron Wilson knew how to motivate the players. I’m guessing TMac is the same. But TMac inherited this team, a team built for the playoffs, and he’s not had the time to make his true mark by providing input on the type of player he’d like to have. Did he really want Patrick Marleau as the team captain, or was it easier to keep the status quo and keep the captains the same as under R Wilson?

In his blog, the Merc’s Sharks’ beat reporter Dave Pollack revealed that Thornton wasn’t available for any post-game comments on April 23 (after the game 4 loss). Dave also wrote, “It probably would have been good to hear from Patrick Marleau, too. But I have to confess I didn’t ask for him—in part because he’s another player who doesn’t open up much and I just didn’t have the time to invest. One of my colleagues thinks that Marleau, as captain, should be waiting for the media after every game, win or lose, but that is not Marleau’s way.” 

Very telling. Two of the highest-paid players on the team went AWOL when the questions got tough. Yes, being questioned after a horrible game and unacceptable results (yet again) are not easy, and to be honest, it’s not easy for a reporter to have to ask those questions. But Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau earn the big bucks and as such are responsible for certain things.

Evgeni Nabakov was available, and answered questions, as did Dan Boyle. They know their responsibilities no matter how unpleasant and did what they needed to do. Those are difficult questions to answer and I don’t envy the players being put in that position to come up with something insightful that isn’t expletive-laden.

I’m not calling for Nabakov’s head in the offseason. He may not have been perfect, and Anaheim’s goalie Jonas Hiller might have been better, BUT Nabakov does not score goals. The team in front of him does and they failed to do that.

One of the two has to go—either Marleau or Thornton. I believe Marleau has been playing hurt (back, shoulder and knee)  for the past couple of years which explains his invisibility during certain games or for prolonged periods. The team simply cannot afford to have two non-leaders as the supposed franchise cornerstone players and public faces of the team (their faces are out there as the faces of the franchise—Thornton and Marleau are the primary guys, along with Nabby to a point). Ask Marleau to prepare a list of acceptable teams and go from there…all a NTC means is you can’t trade a guy without his approval. Plenty have chosen to waive their NTCs for the good of their careers. Might as well ask Thornton to do the same because Marleau's wife will put her foot down and refuse to leave the area for a few years ... one's gotta go, and it's easier to have Marleau go and reassign the captaincy instead of taking it from him.

Give Nabakov another year (and this year is a contract year, nothing like a contract year to make a guy stand on his head). Dan Boyle is untouchable; give him the C. I doubt a draft-day package with Marleau as the centerpiece can be created, so sniff around and see which teams would prefer some nice mid-career guys and go from there. The offseason will be very telling regarding certain SJ signings—is Ryane Clowe in it for the money or does he want to stay with a contending team? (I believe SJ will be a playoff team again next spring, but I won’t even say it will be a contending team. I’ve learned …)

As for ticket prices … I think my stance toward the Sharks would have softened if management had followed the lead of several teams and announce that STH prices would be frozen. It’s widely believed the cap will go down this summer, and with the shaky employment picture so many good Americans (and Canadians) find themselves in, to raise prices is just not right. Teams including Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York (Islanders), Ottawa and Phoenix have already gone on record that they are freezing process. Dallas and Tampa Bay are reducing prices. Thus far only Buffalo, Washington and (surprise—NOT!!) Toronto have announced they will be raising prices.

As far as the remaining teams are concerned, I do not want Detroit to repeat. I’ve wanted the Cup to go back to Canada and the little PR turkey in me can’t help but think what a clever little marketing ploy it could be if the Vancouver Canucks manage to win it all and have bragging rights of being the home of the 2009 Stanley Cup Champs and the “natural” place for Olympic hockey in 2010. Yeah I know, real lame! But I’m really not pulling for any one team EXCEPT for whoever is playing Detroit to give ‘em hell and beat ‘em up! I’ll reassess in the third round … and yes I’ll still be watching.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I wonder ...

I was sitting in my car at a stop light across the street from San José City College earlier today on my way home from a medical triage class. (Yes, SJCC,  the home of raging liberals and affirmative action run amuck.) I let my mind wander as usual ... and here's where it wandered.

Is it easier to be happy if you are a liberal? Liberals don't worry about housing, or food, or medical care, or education. Someone will provide my education, someone will get a meal for me, someone will provide housing.

Because I lean conservative, I substitute the word "I" for someone in the above statements. I can't imagine being happy thinking someone will provide. Yet the use of "I" sure provides me with plenty of things to worry about.

What ever happened to "I?" There is an i in the word liberal. Have they forgotten that each of us is responsible for our own actions, our own care, and for the care of our families and loved ones? 

Can You Go Back Again? Why Would You Want To?

I’ve not strayed terribly far from San José State University following my graduation in May 2000. I returned as an older adult student in the fall of 1998, and kept myself on track for four semesters and one winter session in order to graduate on time. My coursework was challenging but not as difficult as my nursing classes in community college at the end of the 1970s, into the early 1980s.

I have found myself on campus from time to time when I did some work for the director of the Journalism and Mass Communications department. Up until April 23 I’d resisted attending any departmental fund raising efforts, not because I didn’t care, but more because I didn’t have the money. I couldn’t resist attending an event last night though… how often do you get to see an actual living, breathing person that was important enough to a university to have a building named after him? The “party” was a 100th birthday bash for the JMC’s department founder, Dwight Bentel. Bentel also founded the university’s newspaper, the Spartan Daily. SJSU’s journalism building is named Dwight Bentel Hall (DBH for short). There were events in the department all day, the theme being “Visual Journalism Day.”

Bentel is a journalist and photographer. For a 100-year old guy, he does pretty darn well. He’s ambulatory, and his caretaker says she doesn’t have to do anything around the house, that he does his own laundry, cooks and cleans. I suppose she’s around to drive for him, because some of his former co-workers who spoke last night claimed he was a scary driver—nothing got in his way in his quest to travel from Point A to Point B. 

Also in attendance was his older brother, all of 102 years of age.

It was very nice to see some of my former professors that I’ve not seen in the past few years. Most remember me. Most complemented me on my darker hair color. I did go out of my way to thank my magazine journalism editor—because of three semesters with him, I work as an editor. I’d rather be a writer, but a buck is a buck!

I dragged along one of my former classmates, Patricia, one of two of my dearest university friends who are as conservative as I am. Patricia, Sean and I could be counted on to get into political arguments in most any class we took.  Last night it was the same old thing, minus Sean, who is living in Portland, Oregon. Sean is also a veteran of the U.S. Army, where his job was that of a scout. He has a back injury that is covered by the Veteran's Administration.

While at SJSU we took plenty of heat for being conservatives during the reign of Bill Clinton. We three were the only ones who laughed during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings which was widely broadcast throughout the journalism building (the main lecture hall, when not in use, had the trial up on a big screen television, and students came and went as they wished) and who thought he deserved to be impeached.   Most of our professors couldn’t understand why we’d ever not be supportive of anything Clinton had ever done. One proudly displayed a photo taken of herself and her husband with Bill Clinton at one of Clinton’s inaugural balls. She was horrified to learn I had not voted for Clinton, would never vote for Clinton, was against most policies put forth by the Democratic party. “You voted for Bush? You voted for Dole?” she said to me, horrified. “You plan to vote for a Republican in the fall of 2000? I am so shocked and disappointed in you.”

Here is my point: is there such thing as a conservative educator? Other than attending a Baptist university in the deep south, are there any colleges or universities that embrace a conservative slant? The private university I attended for my master’s degree, a Jesuit university, of course toed the Catholic churches’ values, yet its outlook was as liberal as anything. Why is it so wrong to promote a conservative agenda?

Is it possible to be a compassionate conservative in education? We believe in opportunity but we also believe that you need to earn that opportunity, not just have it handed to you based on the fact you are alive and breathing. We believe in personal accountability—that there is honor in paying for our education and in the accomplishments we work for while working for anything, be it a degree or our careers. There is nothing racist in those statements—why am I accused of being racist because I’m conservative?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mark Smith's band, the Vinyl Trees

The Vinyl Trees (Mark Smith in the front)

They do quite a few dates in the Los Gatos and Santa Cruz areas ... they are definitely alternative, and not in the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Stone Temple Pilots definition of alternative ... though they've not been around much since Fall 2008 ... 

How many alternative bands have didgeridoos? The Vinyl Trees are more acoustic than rock, I've not seen them but I don't dislike what I hear, and I've been told they are actually pretty decent live.

Playing General Manager

Instead of getting much work done, I’ve been “busy” checking out hockey message boards and mailing lists, and the buzz of course is “what’s wrong with the Sharks?”

In yesterday’s post just after Game 4 in Anaheim, I pondered if Sharks’ captain Patrick Marleau is really the right guy to have as a team captain, as the go-to guy. Yes, in playoff days of old, he rose above the occasion and at times carried the team on his back. But in no way do I believe he’s ever been a leader in the room, as a vocal, get-in-your-face type, or as in the Steve Yzerman quietly inspirational type.

Being an NHL player in the Pacific Division is tough. You spend so much more time on an airplane and not training or resting/rehabbing properly. Sitting in a plane, no matter how nice and cushy the flight, is no way to relax and heal the body. Marleau has been a professional player since the fall of 1997, the year he was drafted. He’s a decent-sized guy (in hockey terms)—not super-tall or super big-boned, but big enough he can deal with some wear-and-tear. And he has, for 12 years this coming fall.

I know he’s no leader. Although I’ve not been around the team since 2003, Marleau has been promoted as the team’s leader, and ultimately the captain. Was it because of his leadership abilities? I think not—it’s all about marketing! “Our captain is a home-grown Shark; he came to us as a 17-year old and look what a wonderful player he’s turned out to be!”

In the locker room after a game, if you wanted a good quote, you went to Vinnie Damphousse. Or Teemu Selanne. Or Mike Ricci. Or Marco Sturm, Scott Hannan or Mark Smith. Heck, you could get better quotes out of the very sarcastic and dry-humored Brad Stuart! All you’d get from Marleau is a few mumbled words talking about how the team failed to do something, or how hard they had worked, but nothing of much substance. I can’t remember him ever saying “I have to do better; I have to make that play.” I know I got that remark out of all of the other guys, especially Hannan, even if he’d played a good game, he always found something to criticize regarding his play.

I was in the room the night Stuart got hammered by Jody Shelley, and though Brad wasn’t yelling or screaming or acting like a baby, his tempered (and highly censored by the media) words said everything. I wasn’t even allowed to use the actual word he used to describe Shelley—Brad called him chickenshit and “a marginal NHL player” several times during the interview. You could tell just how badly Brad was hurt, but we still got more out of him that night than you could ever get out of Marleau. (I know Brad’s no angel; I’m sure he was egging Shelley on during the incident, that’s just how Brad is.)

The title of this entry is “Playing General Manager.” I am not endorsing making Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson the culpable party just yet. I firmly believe the problem is “in the room,” to quote former Sharks GM Dean Lombardi. But Wilson’s idea of “build the Sharks in the model of Ottawa” might be blown up in the offseason. Besides, did the “Ottawa model” get the Sens into the postseason this spring? I think not … so what would I do? I know blowing the team up isn’t feasible; there are so many guys with no-trade clauses that Doug Wilson is stuck with plenty of albatrosses. But NTC’s can be waived by the player … so perhaps it’s time to have a talk with some players.

I confess to not paying much attention to what’s in SJ’s pipeline in Woostah, who is ready to move up, who isn’t. 

SJ’s NTC guys are as follows: defenseman Dan Boyle, centers Marleau and Joe Thornton, right wing Mike Grier, and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

Dan Boyle is untouchable at this time, but the Sharks do need help on defense. As a unit they are simply too small, with the exception of Douglas Murray, who has picked himself off a scrap heap and worked on his skating and has turned into a decent defenseman. I’d go looking for some bigger, meaner defensemen. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf is having entirely too much fun running over Marc Edouard Vlasic … Vlasic being one of his “favorite” defensemen to play against as Getzlaf nearly always beats him.

I believe Grier’s contract is up this summer. Adios, Mike. 

What do the Sharks have in the goaltender pipeline? A few short years ago SJ was overflowing with goaltenders and goaltender prospects. Where have those guys gone?  I think there is no option but to keep Nabby unless something better comes along. Martin Brodeur isn’t available, nor is a younger clone of him.

We are left with Thornton and Marleau—the two highest-paid players on the team. Just because a guy is the highest-paid player on the team doesn’t mean he’s got to be the leader—unless you package him to the public that he is the leader! One’s got to be moved in the offseason, and I’d prefer to keep JT.  Management, learn a lesson here—if you are going to promote a guy as the team leader, make sure he’s a leader!  Don’t plan a marketing campaign based on “homegrown leader” unless the guy really is making an impact in the room.

I regret never asking “off the record” if Marleau was really a team leader. I came close to asking that once of Selanne, asking who the leaders were that the young guys could turn to. Selanne mentioned Vinnie, Ricci, Hannan (who is a mere 8 months older than Marleau, chosen 23rd in the 1997 NHL draft), and even himself as always being available for the young guys to talk to, to ask advice, to be a sounding board.

Hannan has a domineering (even bossy) personality, and will speak his mind, and will accept blame for a bad situation in a game, even if his actions weren’t that egregious.  Damphousse was the quiet observant type, and when he spoke, you listened, because what he had to say was of significance, even if he used only a few words. Same with Ricci, though Ricci used more words. Selanne was always positive, without fail.

(I wonder what Ricci would say about the current situation … hmmm…)

Keep Ryane Clowe, Torrey Mitchell, Marcel Goc, Tomas Plihal, Milan Michalek, and Joe Pavelski. Let Jeremey Roenick stick around another year if he wants to, but carefully manage his ice time. As much as it pains me to say this, Jonathan Cheechoo and Devin Setoguchi need to be trade bait on draft day, as does Marleau.

On defense, choose between Christian Ehrhoff or Vlasic and move one. Acquire or promote a couple of big, mean decent-skating defensemen. By big and mean I don’t mean guys who spend lots of time in the penalty box—I mean guys who are like skating into a wall as you try to get around them—a good positional defenseman with mobility. If Rob Blake is up for another year, fine, but at a huge pay cut and manage his ice time too.

The Sharks need an ice hog like Hannan was. The team sorely lacks a durable, mean ice hog. Nevermind poor Scottie has had any scoring ability coached right out of him—and that he plays on a crappy team with an inept head coach. Imagine a duo of Boyle and Hannan—the living embodiment of what Hannan and Brad Stuart were supposed to be. Hannan the positional guy patrolling the blue line, and Boyle the sniper who can show up anywhere. I doubt Hannan would waive his NTC to come back here, and I also doubt Doug Wilson finds Scott's $4+million salary acceptable.

Maybe a selling point for Marleau might be a nice trade to an Eastern Conference team where the travel isn’t as terrible. Perhaps that could extend his career …

At any rate, I’m sick to death of Sharks’ apologists making the same excuse for Marleau that they do every spring—“He’s playing hurt.” Guess what, every other player on the ice is a walking bag of black-and-blue bruised flesh.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


Former San Jose Shark Mark Smith (#16) making music

So the Sharks choked, even though I found a way to root for Torrey Mitchell tonight, with his 8:44 seconds of ice time. I do like Torrey, I know he's a bit off and you cannot expect him to be a huge impact player at this point.

At the end of the game, as part of the postgame Comcast show, one of the talking heads is former Shark Mark Smith. SMITTY!!!!! He's one I know from my interviewing days, a nice guy, fun guy. Yeah he was a 4th line type, but he had the heart of a lion.

Which was sorely lacking from the Sharks' highest paid players.

(Back to Smitty—when did he get so blasted cute??? Maybe it's his longer hair ... ah there I go again, fanwank girl!)

Think about this: what is the common denominator through the Sharks' history of playoff futility?

Patrick Marleau.

One player does not a team make, and it's far easier to blame the coach.  I do not believe Todd McLellan is the problem here. He's the third head coach during Marleau's tenure as a Shark (Darryl Sutter, Ron Wilson and now McLellan). It's not all on Marleau, but perhaps it's time to consider a change... he does have a no-trade clause, and it's probably a moot point. I doubt he'd waive his NTC.

It's getting real old apologizing for Marleau playing hurt at the end of the year.

A couple of shots of Doug Wilson at the end of the game said it all: WTF do I have to do?? I have quality veterans, guys who have won it all (Dan Boyle, the only Shark to show up every night giving 110%, no doubt the Sharks' playoff MVP, but he can't do it all!), and young skilled players with lots of playoff experience.

I told my boss that the Presidents' Cup was something the Sharks didn't need. It's bad luck, and it might have done this team good resting its big guys (I know, Marleau missed games at the end, but maybe he should have taken himself out earlier for more healing time).

"Our character was questioned tonight." –Sharks head coach Todd McLellan.

If it Works for the messiah, Why Doesn’t it Work for Community Colleges?

(Please note the word messiah not capitalized on purpose!)

I have a dear friend who works at the community college district I used to do contract work for (I performed some public information officer duties, and produced a newsletter designed to keep both college campuses informed about activities on their campuses and to read about achievements of co-workers and sometimes students). My friend is in fear for her job, because the unemployment ax is flying and there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to who goes.

I’ve talked about this job before, and how I did not get the job, and the person actually hired is unable or unwilling to perform all of the duties of the job, including minor graphic design work and showing up at evening events. Oh, and how she’s Latina and I’m not.

Anyway, this community college district is now laying off people deemed non-essential. There was talk amongst some of the survivors that they’d be willing to take a pay cut in order to keep their jobs and let their friends and co-workers retain theirs.

To my knowledge, the head of the district has not offered to take a pay cut off the top of her $250K salary, nor return/not accept her $4K a month housing allowance. Earlier this week this leader found money for a hotel room for a film producer to come speak at an event, and she and some board of trustee members took this person to dinner, no doubt expensed to the district.

Last time I was on campus, about a week after the coronation, there were still “hope and change” posters all over the place. Certainly things were going to be perfect now! And the newly-coronated leader would no doubt take care of the as left-leaning-as-possible community college system and its administrators.

We all know the messiah created a “stimulus package” that hasn’t stimulated anyone with a job (or underemployed, or who has lost a job because of the economic situation). What seems to have been stimulated is a bunch of banks who are in part being rewarded for plenty of bad decisions regarding real estate loans (and who were also TOLD to make those loans by a Democratically-controlled Congress and Senate!) and a pair of U.S. automakers who have been held hostage by unions for years and have built poor quality cars. (I would never own a GM car; I learned to drive in a Chevy Monte Carlo and I ran that thing to the ground!)

So spending what you don’t have is supposed to cure all ills? That's what that "stimulus package" tells me anyway ...

If you are a community college district, with liberal leanings as left as you can go, shouldn’t you do the same thing as your esteemed leader—spend what you don’t have, because that will fix things?

Kind of funny that those people applaud what the messiah did, yet they fail to follow his lead and just keep spending … (sarcasm meter on!)

Of course that district should have done the last hired/first fired thing, and the first fired should be their incompetent PIO. That will save the district $100K a year, and keep two lesser-paid support people in their jobs. What do you think a community college district needs more, a PIO who can’t do half of the job, or two culinary workers who keep the students and staff fed?

I hope my friend survives the carnage.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am a fanwank girl!

Torrey Mitchell—A reason to watch the Sharks again!

I've made no secret that I'm rooting against the San Jose Sharks in the NHL postseason. I think management is greedy and I know they'd planned to raise ticket prices in the offseason, no matter how far the team went into the postseason. And for the first two games at San Jose, I got my wish. I have more of an attachment to Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf than to any SJ player.

Until today—Torrey Mitchell's back! I was immediately torn! Did I still pull for Anaheim, or was I now pulling for Torrey?

Torrey broke his leg in the preseason (I believe) and if I had to have a favorite Shark, it was Torrey. As you can see by his photo, he's cute. I also like his gritty style of play and he's a fast agile skater.

At any rate, SJ won tonight. I'm still really pulling for Anaheim unless Torrey's on the ice.

Yes, you may call me a fanwank superficial girl who picks her favorite player based on his looks and style. It took me a year to find him, but he's not played enough to be what I know he is.

Perhaps come October I will be able to root for the Sharks without reservations. Or maybe not!

Friday, April 17, 2009

What do you tell your kids?

I haven’t written about the Sandra Cantu case on this blog, but I’ve written plenty at Trials & Tribulations.

It’s so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that the person arrested for this crime is a woman, who was known to Sandra (one of her best friends’ mom) and that Sandra was raped with a foreign object. Notice I did not say I have a hard time accepting the fact that Melissa Huckaby’s father and grandfather are Baptist ministers.

Mind you, I’m not calling out Baptists. I guess I’m calling out anyone who believes that a person of God is not capable of executing a sexual crime that leads to murder. Huckaby’s behavior at her first court appearance leads me to believe that sometime in her life, Melissa Huckaby was a victim, too. Watch the video that is available here, and pay attention to the way Huckaby’s lower lip quivers:

Huckaby in court

The quivering lower lip like Huckaby does is a very juvenile behavior, like a kid caught with her hands in the cookie jar who says “I didn’t do it!” but does not remove his or her hand from the jar. Yes, her demeanor shows a consciousness of guilt, but I can’t help but wonder just what is in Melissa Huckaby’s head. What is the “mental illness” she’s being treated for? She was already in the judicial mental health system, and was declared mentally fit to stand trial when she plead “no contest” to a theft charge back in January.

I don’t believe she’s criminally insane, but why was she living in Tracy, in a fairly small semi-rural county with no doubt limited mental health services? What was she hiding from? What was her family hiding her from? Who else living in her household knew Sandra was there that day? Did they not see abnormal behavior in Huckaby, or did they choose to ignore the signs? What has been done to check Huckaby's own 5-year old daughter Madison—what has happened to Madison thus far?

So much we do not know, and so much that will come out in the trial. This is a special circumstances case, and Melissa Huckaby could face the death penalty.

What do parents tell their kids? It's bad enough they have to be taught to fear strangers. It's bad enough you can't even smile at a kid who crosses your path at the grocery store. Sandra lived in a family-oriented mobile home park, where everyone looked out for everyone else. Now what? No more play dates, no sleepovers, no accepting cookies from your neighbor because they might be laced with something?

I'm glad I don't have a young child to try to explain this to.

Continued strength to Sandra’s family, because things are going to get ugly. No doubt the claims of “blame the victim” will soon pop up.

Who wants it more?

Teemu Selanne (one of my favorite hockey players to interview—ever!), Jean-Sébastien "Jiggy" Giguère and Ryan Getzlaf in the spring of 2008.

You might ask why I have a photo of three Anaheim Duck players up.

Of the three, I have met and spoken to only one—Teemu Selanne. It was my pleasure to interview Teemu several times while he was a San Jose Shark. We'd talk about auto racing; he is an avid rally racer in the offseason and loves following motorsports of all types, and of course he's a passionate car collector. I have three favorite all-time players to interview and Teemu is one of them.

Anyway, who wanted it worse tonight—Anaheim or San Jose? I guess the role of underdog is something Anaheim wears well. Face it, they were on fire at the end of the season, and the Sharks seem to have gone on a misdirected autopilot. Sharks are the ones who are in a do-or-die situation, certainly not Anaheim. 

Personally, I felt tonight's game was boring. Yes, I was watching on television and I am sure it was much more compelling in person. I used to care deeply about getting to attend playoff games, but my heart just hasn't been in it since 2007.

Anaheim's first goal was an honest goal that Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabakov could not have stopped. But the second goal, the one by Ryan Getzlaf, was something that he should have not only stopped, but one of the two defensemen on Ryan should have taken a penalty (trip, hook, slash, whatever) to take Ryan's shot away. Instead, it looked as if Rob Blake and Marc Eduard Vlasic were gobsmacked and ended up skating bystanders.

I admit I can't get into anything the Sharks do because I simply do not have a player who piques my interest. Call me a fanwank girl if you like, that's what I am. If Torrey Mitchell makes it back, I might perk up a bit. But I am really bothered by Sharks' management and the greed they show during this economic downturn we are suffering through. This season they raised the deposit for season tickets price to $350 per seat—and that guarantees you playoff tickets now (what they don't tell you is those guaranteed seats are upper bowl seats!). Hasn't the ownership group been reading about job losses and unemployment and people being taxed to death?

Oh wait, none of that matters if you are a millionaire like everyone in the Sharks' ownership group is. They feel nothing, no pain in the wallet. Do they pay taxes too? Do they feel anything when they hand their money over to the government for ever-expanding programs that fail to help people be self-sufficient?

Probably not. No doubt most gave significant money to the DNC. NOW they want to price the regular fan right out of attending a game. I cannot deal with the upper bowl stairs (too steep, too small and someday I am going to tumble right down them if I force myself up there!) and lower bowl tickets are prohibitively expensive.

I think in my evil little mind I know that Sharks management is going to raise ticket prices this summer anyway, no matter how far the Sharks go into the playoffs, even if they went all of the way. I think the satisfaction of having Sharks' management lose out on all of the potential income by NOT making it through the first round of playoffs might be the ultimate karma for their greed. And ... San Jose does not have a first-round draft pick again this June. That's going to be a big problem very fast ...

Of course my happiness will be short-lived because the ticket price increase will happen anyway, and I'l still be priced out of going to any game. One game this season—that's all I've gone to! Contrast that with 30+ games in 2001–2003, when I was writing for Hockeycorp, or even while I was still attending SJSU, when I'd attended perhaps 20 games and every home playoff game.

There is nothing like a live hockey game. I promise that if you see one live game, you are hooked, and you will be a hockey fan. I hate that Hockeycorp went belly-up, and I hate that I am not employable because of my age and my disability. I miss games, I miss going out, but right now what can I do?

Predictions for this series? Only one—seven games. And the winner of the series will be all beat up.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Negotiating with pirates ...

The United States received good news today following the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from the clutches of Somalian "pirates." After a second "escape" by the captain, who jumped off the boat he was being held on, Navy Seals facilitated his rescue, killing three of the four pirates who have held him for days.

There is nothing romantic about these Somalian pirates. They are little more than wanna-be gangsta thugs, except instead of driving around neighborhoods in their beater cars, they are tooling about on the high seas. They claim to not want to kill anyone, but their business plan is demanding ransom from each hijacked ship's home nation.

Naturally mainstream media claims the Teleprompter of the United States is responsible for this positive outcome. Yet there are also media accounts that the U.S. was prepared to pay the $1.2 million ransom demanded by the pirates.

I predict the one in custody will be given U.S. citizenship and the families of the dead criminal pirates will be given reparations.

There is no reason that our Navy should not have been able to go in and end this hostage situation days ago. Even though there is no apparent government in Somalia, the consequences should be swift and sharp.

At any rate, I'm grateful that there are still professionals in the Navy who have the smarts and athleticism to get the job done. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Remembering a fallen hero ...

Photo of SJPD Officer Jeffrey Fontana, murdered in the line of duty, October 2001

I’ve been ultra-busy editing master’s theses for SJSU Journalism and Mass Communications students, so by the end of the day I am sick of words!

Last Thursday I attended the trial of DeShawn Campbell at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice to show my meaningless support to the SJPD and to Officer Jeffrey Fontana’s family.

Officer Fontana was gunned down by Campbell in October 2001. The prosecution should be resting with one more witness, and then it’s the defense’s turn.

Though I have no idea how the defense is going to defend anything.

Officer Fontana didn’t even have the chance to draw his weapon; it was in its holster when officers and paramedics arrived on scene in a normally quiet middle to upper-middle class neighborhood cul-de-sac. His car door was open, service lights/emergency lights were on, and in front of the officer’s car was a beat-up tan Hyundai. The car was quickly traced to a resident of East San Jose, to the father of eventual suspect DeShawn Campbell, who was known to have had possession of that car that early Sunday morning.

DeShawn went on the run for about 11 days, packing the murder weapon with him until he found a homeboy to dismantle the thing and dispose of it in pieces from San José to Monterey to the south, telling his friends that he'd screwed up and killed 911. When he was arrested by plainclothes SJPD officers (all of whom were wearing raid vests identifying them as SJPD), Campbell, an experienced felon, had the good sense not to resist but yelled “Call the NAACP!! Call 911!! I don’t know who these guys are!!” Once he’d been cuffed, he complained his cuffs were too tight.

It’s a good thing I had not been called for jury duty for that trial. For me, the fact that Campbell’s car was there, the fact Campbell went poof! for 11 days, that the bullet that was taken out of Officer Fontana matched bullets found at Campbell’s residence (I think in a wall or fence), well, that's plenty for me!

It is a sorry state of affairs that this trial does NOT have any regular media coverage. Officer Fontana’s brother Greg is blogging about it, and I did an entry on Trials and Tribulations last week.

I just don’t have a stomach for stuff like this. The taxpayers (you and me!) have paid for a private attorney for Campbell (NOT a public defender, initially this was a death penalty case [special circumstances] and I believe it was argued that there were no public defenders experienced enough). But the defense attorney persisted in his first action for his client: he got him declared mentally retarded late last year and the death penalty was taken off the table.

If you are interested, please go to Greg’s blog and catch up on what’s happened thus far. He’s doing a wonderful job of being there for his brother, keeping his memory alive and reminding the jury that some one died! And his mom Sandy is so beautiful and smart and motivated that Jeff is given justice. But on Thursday, testimony did not offer Jeff's name once ... not once … easy to forget why you are there. I pray nightly that the jury they’ve ended up with are wise enough people to NOT buy the defense’s whole story: De Shawn didn’t do it, a felon named McNary did it, even though that information comes only from McNary’s ex-girlfriend several years after the fact, with no additional details offered. There is no evidence whatsoever that McNary was in Campbell's car at all, yet Campbell's prints are all over the Hyundai (called "the Bucket" during testimony).

Between this case, the cop killings in Oakland (and now in PA) and the crap that we are listening to coming out of Washington, DC … this is a scary time in history. I’m not going to totally blame anyone proudly wearing the mantle of liberal/Democrat, but you know what? The kumbaya policies liberals have been hoisting on us all of these years have come home to roost. When granting freedoms, it is assumed that people will act reasonably and within the law. Wee, boys and girls, that isn't happening. Are there no Republican politicians left with enough testes to stand up to stuff like this?

I am seriously contemplating writing a book about this case. I’ve never written a book, and the only thing I’ve had published is an academic paper in Quest, which had several co-authors. The whole thing is just so … sad. An American success story—Jeff was learning disabled, as was Campbell. Jeff persisted to graduate from high school and onto SJSU. Campbell dropped out of high school, learned how to assault people, steal credit cards, and then use those credit cards. The two met, Jeff’s dead, and the taxpayers will be paying for DeShawn’s maintenance in prison for God-knows-how-many years. And cop killaz are “admired” in by their fellow inmates in prison, so he’s not going to be doing hard time. He’s going to be a gangsta celeb in the big house. I certainly hope he ends up in Pelican Bay, that’s a pretty nasty place.

Anyway, I likely will not be able to get back to the trial until Thursday; unfortunately work has to come first. But it sure doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about Greg and Sandy and wishing them the best, and for continued strength. Officer Jeff Fontana came from some pretty classy people. The City of San José and SJPD were lucky to have him, if even for such a short time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Desperate times

I pulled myself away from my feast-or-famine work today to do some errands, deposit checks, and pick up a few groceries. I’ve been tied to my or a computer for nearly 2 ½ weeks, with my only breaks being riding to work on the light rail (loving every minute of it, and the people watching is hysterical, but for another time maybe!) and sleeping. I have edited two 150-ish transportation studies, converted each into a publishing program (FrameMaker, no small feat) and I’ve edited three San José State University student thesis papers, all three are students of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. One of these projects was a 50-page thesis proposal (native Japanese speaker), and the other two were full complete thesis papers, one was 150 pages (and well written by a journalist, but it was my job to turn his paper into an academic work) and the second 120 pages, by a native Russian speaker. I have one more coming, from a Saudi Arabian student.

I graduated from SJSU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications nine years ago, so it’s my way of giving back. I tend to underbill the students. I’ll be making a template for students to use to format their papers properly (and will hand it over to one of my toughest but most favorite professors for her to hand out to students as she wishes) and on Monday April 6, I’ll attend the master’s program presentation for the two students I edited. At this point, their papers are sort of like my … stepkids.

Anyway, so I finally pull myself away from the computer this morning, and do some things I’ve neglected while I’ve been so busy. I’m on a very tight budget and had all of $1.50 on me. And an ATM card. I don’t have a credit card. I was driving through a parking lot at a Home Depot and spied the usual men looking for day labor. This time, I did a double-take. There was a small group of white, Non-Hispanic men standing around. White skinned, some had dark blonde hair, and all were speaking English.

So much for Americans not being willing to do certain types of jobs.

I do understand why people come from Mexico, I really do. I don’t understand how they can afford to live in the Bay Area and send money home. But I also am NOT an advocate for illegal immigration. Illegals take a risk by coming here and success is far from guaranteed, unless they are lucky enough to birth an anchor baby and get that kid’s instant U.S. citizen benefits.

I wished I could have come up with something for one of them to do. Heck, I wish I had more than $1.50 in my wallet.

Then I went to the grocery store, and in the entryway outside, there were a pair of woman asking for donations for a homeless shelter for women and children. When I begged off, claiming I had no money, both women were very polite and said “thank you, times are tough all around.” I got my cart, and took that $1.50 out of my wallet, telling the woman “there goes my light rail fare.” She thanked me and said “I used to be one of those women, my son and I were out on the street. Thank you for the donation.”

I keep being told that when you give, you get back. Well, I do feel somewhat better about myself in that I am a capable writer and editor who happens to be a physical wreck clusterfuck that no one will hire for full-time work. But it could be worse, couldn’t it?

Another thing I want to get off my chest is the freedom for a private citizen to attend court as a spectator and blog about it if he or she chooses. My friend Betsy has been faithfully attending the Phil Spector trial (version 2.0) and both times she has suffered abuse at the hands of the defense attorneys and the defendant and his wife of convenience. Why are they so scared of a little ‘ol blogger?

Last rant for the day: the thug that murdered four Oakland police officers got his sendoff to hell or wherever cop killer thugs/rapists of 12-year old girls go. There was a ridiculous “vigil” held for the gangsta last Wednesday and only 50 idiots showed up; 500 people showed up at his funeral. I wonder how many were just curious looky-lous wanting to see what a genuine thug being buried looks like?

Strength and blessings to the families of the officers taken for no good reason except the cowardice of a low life crook who didn’t want to go back to jail. May his death be a lesson to families of paroled felons who choose to keep guns… this whole thing could have been prevented!

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